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I didn't want flies with my Mcknee burger!

THAILAND | Saturday, 30 December 2006 | Views [8929] | Comments [4]

My burger goes a tad funky on me.

My burger goes a tad funky on me.

Thanks to a long overdue change in the weather on Ko Pha-Ngan, foreign life on the beach increased manifold. Unfortunately, so did the foreign life on my motorbike wounds. As a science experiment, a McDonald's hamburger was once nailed to a fence and didn't change in any visible way in 2 months. In contrast, my asphalt scraped knee burger started to ooze a funky-smelling liquid after just 3 days. Who'd have thought total neglect would have lead to that?

I could feel a savage war being waged on the scabby reward for my contribution to the stereotype of naive foreigner. My knee was being used as headquarters while the Fourth Reich built its army of microscopic life. Pandemonium reigned with heavy causalities, as the increase in the dead white blood cell infantry attested to. I cursed myself for falling foul to the usual pessimism of the allopathic medical tradition, as the nurse assured me it would get infected if I didn't clean it with iodine marinade at least 3 times a day.

As I was on holiday, I thought I would tackle the infection head-on with a burning hot chili extravaganza. I backed it up with a total garlic blowout and I hit the life in my knee burger with Mother Natures 2 strongest antimicrobials. This cost me the sensation in my mouth, any hope of dining companions, and a couple of still smoldering underpants, but gave my immune system a distinct advantage. Unfortunately the entire environment there worked in favour of my new colonial invaders, and it was universally accepted by everyone that any wound must be accompanied by a round of antibiotics. Long aware that I don't live in that universe, this was one time I felt my stringent non-conformity had to be willingly compromised, for the sake of my health, and the appetites of all those unlucky enough to see the field of battle on my leg.

I had wondered at the time why I had been given only iodine when the motorbike driver Harry's multilingual profanity resulted in a greater degree of care, and a larger collection of take-home goodies, including antibiotics. Nurse see-you-in-a-week-to-amputate obviously didn't care how my wounds faired, and because of my indignity at her attitude and defiant neglect to follow even the basic advise of cleaning 3 times daily, I was left somewhat disappointed in myself for having lived up to her expectations.

With my bowels another shattered war zone, I didn't fancy the idea of laying waste to my colonic community, whether malevolent or benign in intent. Intestinal bacteria is responsible for extracting the macro and micro nutrients essential to survival from extremely delicious, fresh and cheap Thai food. Having harvested necessary goodness, the remains are supposed to be regularly and comfortably eliminated in a solid and relatively homogenous manner, everything my current state of affairs was not. Taking antibiotics before a meal was tantamount to a relief food drop falling into an area leveled by nuclear fallout.

No other options were left open to me though. I had given up on asking for extra garlic when the request would have been best left unsatisfied most of the time. Fulfillment ranged from the addition of dried (and hence not biologically active) garlic, more chili, a totally different dish to a marriage proposal. When I felt the invaders launch another offensive, hell bent on total organismal control, I relented and visited the nearby pharmacy for some antibiotics.

Just pointing at my funky rissole was enough to communicate the nature of my need. I chose to forgo any attempt to demonstrate the extent of my toilet troubles, as I only would have been thrown up on or arrested. The two stationed nurses started riding around the office on imaginary motorbikes and stacking into each other, punctuating their derision with hoots of laughter and frequent use of the words kwai (buffalo; as in 'stupid as a') and farang (foreigner). Unperturbed, I hummed an ode to the unknown soldier while I waited for the allopathic equivalent of a lymphatic Armageddon.

Having brought my immunity certain victory, and out gunned the tactical brilliance of Rommel Amoeba and its designs of conquest, the nurse made the drinky-drinky motion then shook her finger, heeding me to remove that particular toxin from my diet. The puffy-puffy motion then got the thumbs up. And adding as an afterthought, the humpy-humpy, or in-out in-out motion got a two thumb salute and an infectious round of laughter as well. So infectious in fact, that everyone I limped past on the way home wet themselves laughing as well.

If I thought that such a degree of laughter was overly generous though, I had the concept redefined for me the next day when I returned for another bottle of iodine. It seems I was being a little too munificent when I infrequently basted my wounds. When the iodine had ran out the night previous, I started using the antiseptic powder I had brought from home. When I showed up with my knee covered in white powder, both nurses looked at each other briefly then burst out laughing again. One shook her head from side to side, face covered by her hands, elbows on counter, while the other convulsed spasmodically on the floor, both utterly lost to fits of laughter.

Once face-in-hands had recovered sufficiently enough to speak, it was 4 days later and I still had the same miffed but happy to go along with the joke face. "Antibiotic is to eat mister, not put on wounds!" I waited another four days for the laughter to again subside before ruining their party by telling them that I was ingesting the antibiotics and this was antiseptic powder.

Convulsing-on-the-floor didn't mind though, her laughter had taken on runaway train proportions and the unfunny truth certainly wasn't going to ruin the rummiest thing she had ever seen. Face-in-hands sobered up enough in light of the facts to sell me a bottle of iodine. Once again an allocution with the drinky-drinky, tut-tut motions concluded our interaction. This time I think she was telling me what not to do with the iodine, rather than avoiding alcohol.

Tags: Doctors, hospitals & health



Harry, Bathe that filthy burger in some salt water, 4-6 times a day. love nurse Kylie xox

  Kylie Dec 31, 2006 5:11 AM


Hi Harry, I should print it off and post it on the cart for you. You silly bugger. How old are you and how many times have you been away from home?

  Ian Jan 3, 2007 8:29 PM


My God Harry, are you sure they didn't drop you off in Iraq instead of Thailand?! You receive more battle scars on holiday than anyone I know.

Take care of your knee, bowels and mind...you worry me :-) xxx

Z xxx

  Zoe Champion Jan 5, 2007 2:04 PM


Hi Harry,

It's Rebecca from Brisbane. Just got your journal address from Danielle at the coffee cart (Jan 07). Enjoying reading about your adventures so far, but really glad it's not me going through the knee thing!!! A nurse I met in Japan told me to stay away from iodine for wound healing (i had an infection in my belly-button of all places!!!) as it kills off all the good stuff as well as the bad stuff. Apparently, salt water is the best.

  Rebecca Jan 13, 2007 11:58 AM

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